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Real-time Relevance Matters on Cyber Monday

Posted December 4th, 2013 by Jonathan Mendez in Advertising , CPC, real-time, conversion, CTR

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Digital ads specifically messaging to Cyber Monday greatly outperformed ads that did not mention it.

From its early incarnation by Shop.org, Cyber Monday has turned into an online holiday shopping benchmark. At Yieldbot we decided to take a look across our retail advertiser base consisting of some of the largest brands and retailers in the world to see how advertisers that took advantage of this 24-hour period fared compared to those that did not modify their messaging specifically for Cyber Monday.

Our dataset includes almost a dozen retailers running millions of impressions and receiving over ten thousand clicks and hundreds of conversions during Cyber Monday on the Yieldbot platform. We compared this same dataset of advertisers to last Tuesday that we picked because it was far enough away from Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday behavior that could skew the data but close enough to Cyber Monday for data consistency.

The results show that overall there was heightened consumer purchase intent on Cyber Monday. However, marketers that took advantage of the contextual real-time relevance of the day fared significantly better.

CTR on ads without Cyber Monday messaging increased 12%

CTR on ads with Cyber Monday messaging increased 43%


For the more important conversion rate the performance difference was striking.

Conversion Rate on ads without Cyber Monday messaging increased 15%

Conversion Rate on ads with Cyber Monday messaging increased 225%


Conclusion: Being able to adjust messaging to real-time context is a marketing practice that demands more attention. Advertisers and Marketers that do this will increasingly come out on top in the hyper-competitive fight for consumer attention and action.

How Yieldbot Influences Consumer Actions Online and In-Store

Posted December 2nd, 2013 by Jonathan Mendez in Advertising , CPC, Performance

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Driving Coupon Conversions and Measurable Lift in Purchase Intent

Search is often leveraged to “close the loop” for other marketing channels. Some go as far to call it “the net” for its success catching previously exposed consumers and funneling them to online purchase or brand engagements. Display and traditional advertising are generally utilized to fill that proverbial “intent” net and build demand for specific products and lift in brand metrics. In tandem and through measurable attribution models they work to fulfill an efficient customer acquisition funnel.

Yieldbot has created a new marketing channel in the premium publisher environment leveraging intent signals and the buying and matching principles of Search (1st party data, in-session/real-time matching, CPC pricing, and keyword targeted ad creative) that does both. Yieldbot closes the loop on consumers by meeting the real-time consumer intent with a relevant ad to drive immediate action and builds demand for products by putting in-view, visible relevant ads when consumers are most receptive to the message, during lean forward content experiences ultimately increasing the likelihood of ad engagement and message receptivity.

As evidence, a major food brand was bringing a new product to market. Their major holding company Search agency ran a campaign using Yieldbot with the goal to drive offline/in-store purchases. To measure effectiveness of the campaign, Yieldbot, in partnership with Nielsen, ran a control vs. expose study to measure Yieldbot’s effectiveness with respect to consumer purchase intent and utilized a 3rd party ad serving tracking technology to measure coupon downloads that occurred on the food brand’s website.

For this brand the Yieldbot campaign was crafted into several thematic groups of keywords, creative and publishers. The keywords (used as proxy for the consumer’s real-time intent) and ads (HTML text) were matched with each other based on messaging. Additionally, the ads are written to match with the context of the publishers in the grouping and their design automatically matched by Yieldbot to the look and feel of each publisher. This combination creates hyper relevance and allows for a seamless consumer experience.

The campaign results spoke volumes. Yieldbot, targeting real-time intent groups for energy, healthy living, fitness, wellness, and healthy eating drove a campaign average 19% coupon download rate, and a 33.7% lift in consumer purchase intent for those that either “definitely will” or “probably will” purchase the product within the next 30 days. Additionally, the campaign drove 6x above industry average engagement rates (CTR). We were not given specific data points for other marketing channels (Search, display, video) however when budget cuts for the brand had to be made Yieldbot was still standing.

The campaign’s success can be attributed to three major components:

  1. Text ads built specifically for the Yieldbot publisher marketplace. The Yieldbot marketplace leverages the same principles as Search, as mentioned; however there is an added layer of data that Yieldbot sees in order to determine intent, the publisher environment. It must be taken into consideration to ensure hyper relevance.
  2. Custom premium publisher marketplace and above the fold placements. The Yieldbot marketplace is comprised of the most premium publishers on the web including the websites of 3 of the 5 largest magazine corporations in the world. These environments contain the highest value and most desired consumers for advertisers. Yieldbot technology and algorithms matched the desired intent, demographics, and psychographics for the advertiser. Also, all ads in the Yieldbot marketplace are delivered in above the fold placements significantly increasing viewability and overall effectiveness.
  3. 1st party data used to target real-time intent. Yieldbot captures, organizes and activates 1st party data from the visitor click-streams our publishing partners to inform ad decisioning. An ad is delivered only if there is a real-time match of intent and advertiser on that specific page-view. No 3rd party cookies, no unknown URLs. The Yieldbot technology is constantly running machine learning and using pattern recognition across these click-streams and pages to deliver the benefits of relevance to the advertiser, the publisher and most of all, the consumer.

Redefining Premium Content Towards CPM Zero

Posted August 2nd, 2012 by admin in Advertising , CPC, Publishers, CPM, Performance

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Say Goodbye to Hollywood

When Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of talent agency William Morris Endeavor said that Northern California is just pipes and needs Premium Content it’s clear that he just doesn’t get it. There is no such thing as premium content. There are only two things premium on a mass scale anymore - distribution and devices.

Massive media fragmentation fueled by the Internet has forever redefined what is ‘premium’ content. The democratization of media – the ability for a critical mass of people (now virtually the entire world) to create, distribute and find content killed the old model of premium. Modern Family is a good TV show but when I can more easily stream a concert like this through my HDTV at any moment I want I’m pretty sure “premium content” has been redefined.

Since the web is the root cause of death for premium content it makes sense that the effect is no better exemplified than in web publishing. Since the advent display advertising publishers have sought to categorize and valuate their content in ways that were familiar to traditional media buyers. No media channel has promoted the idea of or value for premium content more than digital. Thus, print media’s inside front and back covers became the homepages and category pages on portals. Like print, these were areas where the most eyeballs could be reached.

But a funny thing happened in digital behavior. People skipped over the front inside cover and went right to content that was relevant to them. Search’s ability to fracture content hierarchies and deliver relevance not only became the most loved and valuable application of the web, it destroyed the idea of premium content all together. In reality, premium never really existed in a user-controlled medium because it was never based on anything that had to do with what the user wanted. It was based on the traditional ad metric of “reach” when in this medium, decisions about what is premium are determined by on-demand ability and relevance.

Sinking of the Britannica

The beauty of this medium is in the measurement of it. Validation for the drowning of premium beyond the fact that Wikipedia destroyed Encyclopedia Britannica rests in the performance of digital media. A funny thing happened as advertising performance became more measured. Advertisers discovered premium didn’t nearly matter as much as they thought. There were better ways to drive performance that yielded better and more measureable results. The ability to match messaging to peopleon-request and in a relevant way was more valuable in this medium than some content provider idea of what was “premium.” In this medium the public not the publisher determines what is premium.

As realtime rules based matching technology continues to improve performance advertising and marketing itself continues to grow at the expense of premium advertising. Today, despite those trying to hold on to the past, premium is little more than an exercise in brand borrowing and little else. Despite the best efforts of the IAB to bring Brand advertising to Digital it has fallen as a percentage of ad spend for five straight years. In the world we live in today Mr. Emanuel’s $9 billion dollar upfront for network TV primetime advertising is $1.5 billion less in ad revenue than Google made last quarter.

What this all means for the future of digital media (and thus all media eventually) is that it’s headed to “CPM Zero.” Look around - all the digital advertising powers - Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon - are selling based one thing. Performance. They are not selling on the premium sales mechanism of CPM. When ‘CPM Zero’ happens, and it will, these forces pushing the digital ad industry forward win. They own the customer funnel and they will own the future of marketing and advertising. It begs one big question. Where does this leave content creators and publishers?

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Publishers will never be able to put the CPM sales genie back in the bottle. CMOs and advertisers are already finding out that they are paying too much for premium. Go ask GM what they think. What publishers are finding out is that they are no longer selling their media; it’s being bought. Purchased from a marketplace with infinite inventory in a wild west of data. Therein lies the publisher’s ace in the hole and the strategies and tactics digital publishers (and eventually broadcasters) can use to combat the death of premium.

Like Search, Publishers need to have two crucial components to their marketplaces. They need the tension of scarcity in the marketplace.That will drive up demand and force advertisers to spend the time working on improving their performance. This was the cherry on the sundae for Google as a $1billion industry - Conversion Testing and Content Targetinggrew out of nowhere to support spends in Search. Most every dollar saved with optimization went to drive more volume – or back to Google. They need a unique currency for the marketplace. Keywords were a completely new way to buy media. Nothing has ever worked better. Facebook is selling Actions with OpenGraph. Ultimately advertisers are buying customers not keywords or actions but there is a unique window of opportunity for publishers at this moment in time to create something new and uniquely people, not page focused.

The tactics used to fuel these strategies all rely on one natural resource - data. Publishers have diamonds and gold in beneath the surface of their properties. Mining these data nuggets and using them to improve the performance of their media is the sole hope publishers have competing in the world of “CPM Zero.” Only publishers can uniquely wrap their data with their media and drive performance in a manner unique to the marketplace. That’s what Google does. That’s what Facebook does. That’s what Twitter does. The scarcity mentioned above is created because the realtime understanding of site visitor interest and intent is only derived using first party data as rules and integration with the publisher ad server for delivery. So pubs are really left with one choice – take control of their data and use it for their benefit creating an understanding of WHY people are buying their media and how it performs. Or let Google, Facebook, third-party et al come in and grab their data and know nothing about why it’s being bought and how much it’s being sold.

The ability to match messaging to people on-request and in a relevant way is within the publisher’s domain. It is the most premium form of advertising currency ever created and will deliver an order of magnitude more value. It will fuel the 20% YoY growth of digital advertising and marketing for the next 15 years. Who captures the majority of that value, the advertiser or the publisher, is the only question remaining.

Serendipity Is Not An Intent

Posted December 30th, 2011 by admin in Advertising , Discovery

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Wired had two amazing pieces on online advertising yesterday and while Felix Salmon’s piece The Future of Online Advertising could be Yieldbot’s manifesto it is the piece Can ‘Serendipity’ Be a Business Model? that deals more directly with our favorite topic, intent.

The piece discusses Jack Dorsey’s views on online advertising and where Twitter is going with it. I had a hard time connecting the dots.

“…all of that following, all of that interest expressed, is intent. It’s a signal that you like certain things,”

Following a user on Twitter is not any kind of intent other than the intent to get future messages from that account. If it’s a signal that you like certain things it’s a signal akin to the weak behavioral data gleaned from site visitations.

Webster’s dictionary describes intent as a “purpose” and a “state of mind with which an act is done.” Intent is about fulfilling a specific goal. Those goals fall into two classes, recovery and discovery.

Dorsey goes on:

When it (Google AdWords) first launched, Dorsey says, “people were somewhat resistant to having these ads in their search results. But I find, and Google has found, that it makes the search results better.”

At the dawn of AdWords I sat with many searchers studying their behavior on the Search Engine Results Pages. What I and others like Gord Hotchkiss who also studied searcher behavior at the time learned, was people were not as much resistant to Search Ads as they were oblivious to them. People did not know they were ads!

Search ads make the results better because they are pull. Your inputs into the system are what pull the ads. So how does this reconcile with the core of Twitters ad products that are promotions? Promos need scale to be effective. Promos are push. Precisely the opposite of Search where the smallest slices of inventory (exact match) produces the highest prices and best ROI.

Twitter is the greatest discovery engine ever created on the web. But discovery can be and not be serendipitous. Sometimes, as Dorsey alludes to, you discover things you had no idea existed. More often, you discover things after you have intent around what you want to discover. This is an important differentiation for Twitter to consider because it’s a different algorithm.

Discovery intent is not an algo about “how do we introduce you to something that would otherwise be difficult for you to find, but something that you probably have a deep interest in?” There is no “introduce” and“probably” in the discovery intent algo. Most importantly, there is no “we.”It’s an algo about “how do you discover what you’re interested in.”

Discovering more about what you’re interested in has always been Twitter’s greatest strength. It leverages both user-defined inputs and the rich content streams where context and realtime matching can occur. Just like Search.

If Twitter wants to build a discovery system for advertising it should look like this.

Hacking Display Advertising

Posted October 15th, 2011 by admin in Advertising

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Being as passionate as we are about the huge advances in dynamic web languages and event based programming it is tough to love display advertising. Display advertising was never about web programming or data networking. It was nested on the web as a rogue aggregation and delivery mechanism. The ability of display to deliver relevance remains hindered by this disjointed architecture. It is not threaded into site experiences and the realtime goals of the visits on the pages where it resides. This is exactly why we’re hacking it into something else.

Vanilla Sky

In Q2 2007 while most of the industry was living some sort of vanilla sky of Behavioral Targeting one company came in and paid, what at the time seemed to most people way too much money, to own a controlling interest in display. No, I’m not referring to AOL buying TACODA. The company I’m talking about has maintained a focus since day one on hacking what you are interested in at that very moment. Unlike other content aggregatorsit tied its advertising system in the core user experience of its pages and the realtime relevance they delivered. Their stated Display strategy has little to do with cookie matching and everything to do with realtime context and creative optimization with the purpose of “capturing relevant moments.” It is now the most powerful company in Display. That company is of course Google.

Lucid Dreaming

The first lesson here is about the medium itself. This is a different medium and the old media buying and selling template breaks here. Behavioral Targeting may have changed names to the less scary “Audience Buying” but seven years later performance expectations have not been met and it has dragged display into the mud of issues like privacy, ad verification, cookie stuffing and more.

By contrast, Search and email – the most important of the web’s applications - have little use for tracking people across the web, let alone reach and frequency measures. They are the opposite of that. Search (and the web itself) was built by hackers to solve information management and retrieval problems.

The second lesson is that in this medium three pieces of data are valuable – context, timing and performance. The rest is just pipes. Understanding the context of an impression or click at the moment the page is loading and the ability to optimize the message is what the web was built for. It took Search to turn it into a marketing channel but growth (~20% YoY with no end in sight) and the size ($46B in 2013 per eMarketer estimates) of that channel shows how powerful that data is and how helpful understanding it can be to consumers.

Waking Up

The fact that it is referred to as display “advertising” is reason enough to know it’s from another time. This medium kills advertising. Everything on the web is marketing. As Suzie Reider, national director of display sales for Google said recently “display needs to move beyond advertising and into interacting.” Yesterday, Krux CEO Tom Chavez wrote a thoughtful blog post on how it is time for display to move beyond advertising. We agree and we’re walking the walk.

This doesn’t mean that publisher will not show ‘graphical’ units as Google calls them. Of course they will. It doesn’t mean that prime real estate isn’t going to be turned over to these units, they will. We’re headed to a world with fewer messages that will be bigger and more interactive. But if we have learned anything from Search it is that format and size don’t matter when the message is relevant, helpful and useful at that moment.

Billions of Relevant Moments

As long as technology to understand context and timing are progressing as fast as they are (and as places like Betaworks where realtime is the thesis of the new medium value creation the startups are hacking away) there is a bright future. Search has proven that the web is the greatest and most democratic marketing medium ever created. The hackers working with dynamic web languages and event driven programming can unlock an order of magnitude of more relevant moments. There are literally billions of them out there waiting to be captured and created. At Yieldbot we see this scale everyday in the inventory of web publishers and if you’re a hacker and remaking the staid idea of advertising appeals to you we would be interested in speaking with you.

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